INDUSTRY ISSUE | Alcohol Tax Increases Recommended

Three of 13 experts from the world of academia and public advocacy recommended to a Senate Finance Committee roundtable on May 12 that taxes on alcohol be increased significantly in order to help fund the $1.2 trillion health care plan put forth by President Obama.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a long-time alcohol opponent, proposed a 50 percent increase in spirits taxes with beer and wine equalized according to alcohol content.

Robert Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities offered three suggestions: to put taxes at the 1991 level, but adjusted for inflation since that time; to set alcohol taxes at a uniform $16 per proof gallon, an option the Congressional Budget Office includes in its recent health care options volume; and a combination of the first two suggestions.

The desire to raise revenue via increased taxes on alcohol is expected in this environment where government entities are cash-strapped and looking for dollars. The beverage alcohol industry, however, has long held that increasing taxes on spirits, wine and beer is actually regressive, resulting in a decline in tax contributions to public coffers. Such was the message from MIT professor of economics Jonathan Gruber, PhD, when he addressed the roundtable, and also from Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning, according to the Congressional Quarterly.

Editor’s Note: Don’t just sit there! These proposals are real and are backed by well-funded organizations with public policy agendas that are anti-alcohol at their core. As responsible servers of alcohol and business operators, the on-premise hospitality community’s voice must be heard. Visit to find out more and also send a message to your representatives in government. – DHC


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